Saturday, June 8, 2013

The living is easy.



Everyone loves a parade, especially one with dancing teeth!
(From today's Parade the Circle, in University Circle, Cleveland.)

Kids finished school for the year, summer is upon us, and it was a good week for light. 

On Monday morning I had a phone call to make first thing, but there was no reason I had to make it from a desk. I decided to stop and use my cell from the Shaker Lakes. As I approached the turn in at the west end of the lakes along North Park, I could see glimpses of the water through the trees. Then for one moment, I could see the lights on the footbridge over the dam at the end of the lake still glowing orange in the brightening dawn, big and soft in the humid morning air. On the surface of the water the reflection showed as bright twin smudges stretching all the way across the lake. (When I got out of my car, I saw two sleeping mallards balled up on the dam and out on the water what I think was a female horned grebe diving for breakfast.)

On Thursday late afternoon in the misty rain, as I descended Mayfield Road from the high point at Taylor, a mile's length of wet pavement dipped and rose in front of me, reflecting headlights and brake lights and prematurely lit streetlights in great impressionistic swathes on the shiny black road. The wet air made everything seem simultaneously brighter and darker than normal, and beyond on the horizon, the lights of downtown rose in a warm false dawn.

Then on Friday, at a soccer game (go, Royals!) on the edge of the Cleveland State campus (with friends I am glad to know and would not, I think ever have, were it not for our children going to the same preschool) I watched as a cloud descended slowly onto the geometric skyline -- like a downy bird settling softly onto a very angular egg. It obscured the skyscrapers entirely and eventually fuzzed out all the lighted signs on the lower buildings too. (Kid #1: "The Key tower is gone, and you can't see Huntington anymore. Soon PNC will be gone too. Kid #2: "Why are there so many banks?" Kid #3: "Because there is so much money. Duh.") Underneath the great feathery bottom of the cloud bird, the blazing stadium lights felt close and intimate, even with the vuvuzela chorus.

Reading: Almost done with the Dillard, looking at the some food memoirs (especially Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef at Prune -- who went to grad school with a writer friend of mine, I think ... I think that's how I came into possession of this galley copy, from 2 years ago), and also reading a manuscript for a member of my writers group.

Sounds like a lot of reading, considering how I am still killing myself with too many streaming episodes of Green Wing.
 
Writing: Transitions are hard. Yes, transitions on the page, but more than that right now transitions between chunks of work. I work deeply on one scene for a few writing sessions and then I have to turn and wrap my head around the dynamics and details and emotional texture of another scene. (I am not working linearly.) How do I open up this little mini universe? What do I need to do with it? Will I ever get to the other side?

But today was lovely. After going to Parade the Circle (an event that restores my faith in humanity, truly, no hyperbole) with family and friends, I peeled off and went to the botanical gardens. I bought a cup of soup in the cafe (sweet potato and mushroom chowder) and found a secluded bench by a patch of jack-in-the-pulpits and sat for a couple hours, reviewing my notes and working on a scene, the "wake scene" still.

Tomorrow, I will pick it back up again, and when this is done, I will turn to the desert and a whole important section that is still only a skeletal sketch. So, bit by bit, I revise and add onto the thing until sometime soon I get to the end of it all ... way over there. I can see it. The number of moves I must make to get there are finite. And I must get there soon. I begin a new job (teaching) in mid-August and this monster needs to be boxed up and sent off for comments from my group by then. I want to spend the fall and winter working on new, smaller things ... like the group playwriting project I've just been told is a go.
 
Dinner: Tonight, after parade and writing in the garden and working for a bit in my own garden (lawsy, what a girl can do on a long summer's day!), I made curry braised chicken wings, and it was good. Z has friends over for a sleepover, and they mostly ate buttered noodles.
 
Soundtrack: While sitting and writing this afternoon, I could hear the band in Wade Oval from over the hill and through the trees. At one point they started a song that sounded like Paul Simon's "Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes," but it strangely morphed into "Message to You, Rudy."
 
Random thing: I chaperoned kids for O's class trip to the zoo on Wednesday. In our group was a tiny boy from Nepal, who I have barely heard speak all year. I don't think he spoke much English when school started. He opened up on this trip though, pointing to animals and asking "What is this?" or checking his knowledge, "This is a zebra?" and then he would count how many of the animal were there - "One, two, three, four. There are four giraffes." Then the greenhouse, it was his turn to tell me something. We stopped in front of a bright orange hibiscus. I started to open my mouth to say something admiring about it, but something in his posture stopped me. He pointed and turned his face to me. "This is Nepal flower," he said. 

Oh, and this ...

I grew these.

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